The Foundation Is Laid

Dignifyvia Daily Prompt: Dignify

One week.  And what a week it has been for me!

I learned so much about the company for whom I now work.  I’ve learned about patience – and that I still have to work on it. 

I have also learned a great deal about what I’ve been missing for the past five years – how people live.  The little things such as how to get up in the morning to an alarm, groaning at having to get up at all, commuting to and from work, routines, getting things done at home prior to going to work, paying bills and how to pay the bills…

That leads to issues such as credit cards and even…to a simple checking and savings account.  I haven’t had either.  Didn’t need them.  I’ve been on aid for five years and transferring money to a prepaid credit card.  But this week, with all of the hassles of my background check becoming a major pain in the arse now becoming an afterthought, the realization that “temp to hire” means, “you are being hired permanently”  after a probationary period and all background checks are completed, it was time to change that.

Setting up an account
It was time….

Money for me always was and always has been a demon to slay.  Always.  I never truly understood that I was the master and it was merely a means to an end.  It was the vehicle to propel me forward – or to hurl me backward.  Credit?  Talk about another thing I never fully understood.  I never knew how to manage it.  It was an afterthought.  “Oh, so that means I can buy this now and I can hide the damage!”   Soon that damage would result in “maxed out” credit limits and bankruptcy.  There you have it – the skeletons in my closet.  The very thing that shows the lack of dignity in my life; pure dishonor.  I’m filled with shame over this issue.  I’ve hidden this for far too long.  It’s time to fix that once and for all.

free-checking-apply
Take a deep breath…time to put on those “big girl” panties on….

So, I haul my tail into a federal credit union my Vocational Rehabilitation Worker highly recommended – ok, back up here.  She recommended it alright but I tried to set it up online, smartphone in hand, during the week.  I get it all going and then here comes…the dreaded funding source.  How much is going into my accounts?  (US Federal Credit unions require a savings accounts – called “share” accounts. That’s how you’re a member of the Credit Union)  So since I only needed one, that’s right ONE measly US George Washington-faced bill – to set up my checking, that’s what was going in.  TEN of those same US George Washington-faced bills..or one Alexander Hamilton – faced bill, the ten dollar bill…is what was needed to fund the savings.  My funding source?  My prepaid-American Express card.  The internet site said I could use it. TADA!  We’re there.  Input the numbers.  Got it.  Input the four number security code from the front (AMEX uses the front, not the back like VISA).  BAM!  Good there.  Hit the “Next” button and then?

One big fat error message right where my AMEX number is.

What?!?  But it’s there!  I input it again.  

Another error message.  And another.  Then another.  And yet another.  

I’m now thinking my entire life is one big error message at this rate.  I call customer service.

“Oh, the IT guys said it’s a glitch in the system.  it can’t take AMEX cards as funding sources at this time,” said the Customer Service Representative.

“Any timeframe as to when this will be fixed?” I replied.

“Uhhhh, no, Ma’am.  There isn’t,” replied the Customer Service Representative.  “You need to have a VISA card or you need to come into a branch with cash.”

A glitch in the system.  Right.  I looked up the term “glitch” and it is defined, thank you my dear “friend” Webster, perfectly, as “a minor malfunction, mishap, technical problem; a snag.”   It gave the example of….drum roll, please?  A computer glitch!  Hey, she used it properly, what do you know!  I think this word is the most overused word to explain everything from being late to work to why we can’t get world peace.   In my case, just call a spade a spade and be done with it.  Geez!  You just don’t take AMEX.  Take the stupid “hey we take AMEX” moniker off of your website and you’re done.

Now, here we are, on Saturday, and a very friendly Credit Union rep is setting everything up nicely.  And me, cash in hand – forget AMEX here – funds both checking and savings.  BAM!  Done.  I even have my credit report run.  

Uh oh.

That’s right.  I had to face my biggest demon, the thing that has been my albatross, the greatest indignity in my past and had to turn it into something of honor; to dignify myself.  No more shame.  I had to adopt the mantra, “No more shame.”  I’m building my foundation to my “house,” my financial house today.  It starts by facing the dreaded FICO score which shows my bankruptcy filing, the deferrals on my student loan debt and anything else that’s lurking.

smooth wet foundation of house
As I build my financial house, I’m facing fears

To my surprise, my FICO score wasn’t that bad!  Sure I have a couple of things lurking – one was an error that I couldn’t prove was an error so now, I have to pay it.  The other is a medical credit card I “maxed” out when I had no business getting credit. Now, I can clean that up with payments, if I can set that up.  It will take time to do but I can do it is the point.  Woo hoo!  I felt relieved, alive and overjoyed.

Off I went to get my nails done – too long of a line, and too little money so?  I went to get my hair trimmed instead.  Grabbed a gallon of milk, wandered around a store and then my ride shows up.  But, I accomplished two huge things:  both made me feel so good about myself and dignified me, something I hadn’t been doing for a very long time.  It felt very good.  VERY good.

But then, I climb three flights of stairs to my apartment.  I am now carrying a gallon of milk, my large canvas designer bag with everything inside and am digging….and digging. And digging some more.  I know I put them in there.  I swear I did.  I mean, how could I have locked the front door?  I’m still digging and then, nothing.  I can’t find the keys!  I was notorious for locking keys in my car.  Notorious.  Now, I don’t have a car to lock them in!  How could I have done this?!?  I go all over West St. Paul and downtown St. Paul and somehow I lose my keys?  

Yes, my life is getting back to normal, it seems.  My old habits are returning.  Losing my keys was one of them, speaking of lack of dignity.   My mother, the good Roman Catholic she was, taught me to “pray to St. Anthony,”  the patron saint to finding the lost.  Mom, I’ve got bad news.  This is more than lost. We’re talking a major metropolitan area here.  But in the meantime, what do I do?  Ah, manager of the apartment complex.

“Wait are you in the 123 building?”  asked Mary (not her real name).

“Yes, just down the hall from you.  Number 300,” I replied. (Not my real apartment number)

“But…I don’t see you,” Mary replies.

Mary – not her real name – is a tiny woman, about 80 years old and has four apartment complexes to manage.  She is everywhere.   She knows all, tells all and babysits every kid in these complexes.  This is the same woman who knew that it was my sock I left behind in the laundry room when she went in to clean the morning after I did my laundry. She’s that good.  But this day she was “off her game” so I opened the hallway door and waved as she opened her front door.  Out she comes wearing “gramma slippers” a leisure robe, looking very much like “gramma” and is fumbling with keys.

It’s a good thing because my other option?  My next door neighbor’s deck hooks to mine and I was going to go through her apartment, out her sliding glass door, hop the gate over to my deck and get into my apartment that way as my sliding glass door was open – third floor, remember?  Talk about indignity!   As it turns out, my neighbor wasn’t home. Mary was my only option.

I can come up with great ideas “on the fly.”

Here comes Mary, keys in hand, and says, “Until you find your keys, here’s yours.  You need to check your mail?”

I nodded.  She hands me my mail key and I race down to check it.

Another glitch.  No, that word doesn’t work this time.  How about snafu?  Situation Normal, F@#ed Up.  That’s better.  Why?

The key doesn’t work.

Wonderful.  Back upstairs I go, drop one key into her rent box, unlock my front door, one gallon of milk goes into the fridge and I think, “Screw writing for today.  Today, it’s….ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE DAY!”

I think I accomplished a great deal today, including lost keys, don’t you think?